The Good Word for Nov. 23rd

For the complete Sunday readings click here.

My wife is amazing. The other day we had some of our couple friends over. We all have elementary-aged kids. The adults were all down stairs in our living room talking and the kids were upstairs playing in our playroom. All of a sudden we hear this shrill scream and instantly, all the moms start to get up until my wife says, “Ohh, that’s mine,” and runs upstairs to care for our 5 year-old.

Out of the fifteen kids who could have been screaming, how did she know it was Sophia? Because my wife is Sophia’s mom and Sophia is her child. Liz knows her children and her children know her.

In our first reading, from Ezekiel, God explains that he is a shepherd who really knows his own sheep. He knows them so well, that when they are scattered and separated, he will still go after them and find them. The lost he will find. The injured he will help. The sick he will heal. And those who are a little too full of themselves, he will humble.

The key to this passage is that we belong to God and he will do anything to bring us back into relationship with him. So the question is, if God wants to be close to us, how do we get close to him? Jesus answers this question in gospel.

Jesus says whenever we have helped the hungry, thirsty, stranger, naked, ill, or imprisoned we have helped him. And whenever we have been near to the least, we have been near to him. So, if you want to be close to Jesus, get close to the poor, vulnerable, and marginalized. It’s that simple.

Live It:
Make a plan to be close to the poor, vulnerable, or marginalized sometime this Advent. Need some help making your plan? Check out our website on ways you can reach out. https://www.hnoj.org/outreach

The Good Word for November 16th

For the complete Sunday readings, click here.

huffyOne Christmas I received an amazing gift – a Huffy White-Heat Bike. It was rad. (Okay, the year was 1991. Totally rad.) That year I road my new bike everywhere. My neighborhood was my domain. That summer I road my bike to Aaron’s house for wiffle ball, to Jason’s house to play the original Nintendo, and to swim practice nearly every morning. Short of a few rainy days, I think I road my bike everyday.

The three servants in the gospel reading for this weekend are also given a gift. Each is given a sum of money. The first two servants take that money, and through investment, make back more money then they started with. The third servant is afraid of the master, so he digs a hole and hides his gift.

Why is the master so upset with the last servant when he comes home? The third servant doesn’t really use the gift he is given. The third servant doesn’t take full advantage of the incredible generosity of the master. The third servant acts out of fear and hides his gift. By not using the gift he is given, it’s as if the third servant doesn’t really accept the gift at all.

Jesus tells his parable as both an encouragement and a challenge. Continue reading

The Good Word for Sunday Sept 28

For the complete Sunday readings click here.

the-princess-bride_image

One of my favorite movies of all time is The Princess Bride. The movie is an old-fashioned fairytale told by a grandfather to his sick grandson. In the story a young woman named Buttercup, who is engaged to a prince, is kidnapped to start a war. Her childhood love, Westley, returns, from a life as a pirate king, to save her and prevent a war. If you haven’t seen it, seriously, watch it tonight – great for the whole family.

At the beginning of the film Buttercup asks Westley to serve her in a variety, and often unnecessary, ways. Westley’s response is always, “As you wish.” He is without question, obedient to her request. This total obedience and complete surrender of will eventually wins the heart of Buttercup and she falls in love with Westley.

We don’t often think of it, but obedience is an act of love.

To do what is asked is like saying, “Your desire is more important than mine.” To be obedient takes a great deal of trust, sacrifice, and love. When Westley said, “As you wish.” He was really saying, “I love you.” (Watch this video to see the phrase in action.)

There has been no greater act of obedience and of love, then Jesus Christ giving his life on the cross. Jesus did it out of love for God the Father and for us. Jesus was obedient even though he asked for the cup to pass. Our second reading explains this so well when it says, “Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Phil 2).

Every Mass and every time we pray the Our Father, we pray the words, “Thy will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven.” We are literally praying for God’s will to be done not ours. We are actually saying to God, “As you wish.”

Live it:
Take a Post-It note and write the phrase, “God – As You wish.” And stick it on your bathroom mirror. Every time you see it, pray the phrase and ask God to give you the grace to live it out.

The Good Word for Sunday Sept 21

For the complete readings click here.

If I had a nickel for every time I screamed the words, “But mom, it isn’t FAIR!” at my mother when I was a kid, I would have more than a little walking around money. I was the oldest and nothing ever seemed “fair” to me. My sister got bigger pieces of pie and small punishments. She got more attention and a later curfew. I felt like that first laborer who worked all day in the sun and received the same wage as the guy who worked for only an hour – life isn’t fair.

Our gospel this week isn’t about fairness or about salary distribution, but about the inconceivable abundance of the kingdom of God. God’s kingdom is so “wealthy” with God’s infinite love that no matter when you or I come to receive God’s love and mercy, we always receive a full measure.

One could hear this story and say that the landowner was foolish and unwise with his pay scale, but in reality he is a landowner so wealthy that he never has to worry about how much he pays his employees. The same is true of the kingdom of God. God’s kingdom is overflowing with love and mercy for us to the point that God never has to worry about running out. God’s love is endless, infinite, and unconditional.

The workers in the story don’t get paid because they worked hard and long. No they get paid simply for saying “yes.” The workers all get a full day’s wage for saying yes to the landowner, for following him from the town square to his vineyard, and for choosing his land to work. If we want to receive God’s love and mercy, all we have to do is say yes to his invitation.
How is the way you live you life a “yes” to God?

Live it:
Before going to sleep tonight, ask God how you can yes with your life? Rest in silence for 2 minutes and listen.